If there’s anything I’ve learned about writing over the last few years, in particular relation to my own behaviour, it’s that I work best with momentum, but like any engine I start with difficulty when cold. And the longer you leave me to gather dust clogging up my spark plugs (just let me run with the tired metaphor, apparently ‘tired metaphor’ is a search phrase that brought a visitor to my blog so I don’t want to disappoint the fans…) then the harder it is to get me going again.
I hadn’t completed a first draft of a story since some time last autumn, I believe. I have written since then – two unfinished first drafts that were quite painful. And an awful lot of avoidance and self-doubt. Last night I finally completed a first draft of a new story, and I’m already 500 words into a new one, which I might actually be enjoying! Stranger things have happened.
This momentum feels good. It creates its own pathways. Ideas form and evolve and the act of sitting down and writing begins to feel like something that I look forward to doing, instead of the monolithic escarpment needing scaled it had become.
So the new short story is a nice light-hearted story of two young heroin addicts and the depths their exploration into themselves reach. Okay, it’s a depressing tale with some unpleasant body horror and drug use and why the hell does my mind take me down these weird avenues? Current title is ‘Love as Deep as Bones’, which I’m quite liking and may well stick.
Next story is something utterly different and a little tester for the fantasy novel idea about Scottish Drovers that’s been rattling around my head for over a year now. This short story is mainly an exercise in voice and how to pare down the plot of the novel to its skeletal basics and tell it in the style of a Scottish Traveller tale, with its everyman protagonist in a battle of wits with the Devil. Thanks to Duncan Williamson’s excellent little collection of Scottish Traveller’s tales – “Jack and the Devil’s Purse” from Birlinn, which has inspired the voice and mode of storytelling.
Keeping the momentum going is always the challenge. My ability to focus on work seems to be worse than ever, but it’s all positive currently and I’ll continue blogging as I roll forward.